Diorama

jungle stripWhat is a diorama? I didn’t know until a few weeks ago when we were visiting some friends and I had the opportunity to make my own. A diorama is basically a three dimensional model of a landscape, which can include trees, rocks, hills, sand, water, roads, people, cars, etc…

Our friends had recently learned how to make them, and while we were visiting they showed us how. I’ll give you a quick description of how I made mine, and then you can research more detailed instructions elsewhere.

I started by taking a thin sheet of plywood, and drawing out where the hills and elevations would be (a bit like the way a topo map looks). I then cut out different layers for the hills out of styrofoam, and used toothpicks and glue to fasten them on to the base to form mountains. You can get large quantities of hard foam inexpensively from a hardware store.

The next step was to tightly cover the whole landscape (except rocks and cliffs) in burlap. I used a glue gun and my fingers to press it into corners and attach it. When the hot glue was dry, I painted the whole thing in a generous coat of white glue.

Once that glue dried, I painted it. I did grey on rocky areas, and brown on the forest floor and ground. Then I sprinkled ‘grass’ dust on the areas where grass would grow. This powder gives the impression of grass or moss on a miniature landscape. I sprayed that with hairspray, which helps stick everything down to the burlap.

After that I took tree fluff and rocks and glued them to make a jungle/forest landscape, as I was making a missionary jungle airstrip, so I had mountains on either side, with a flattish grassy area running down the centre.

After all the finishing touches, I sprayed again with hairspray (which has many more uses other than just on hair, including making a mini compact flamethrower).

sideways
Note the painted burlap and hard foam visible in this shot from the side

That’s it! You can research more detailed instructions online, and search for pictures to inspire you. Remember, you can also save a lot of money by improvising cheap things instead of using the recommended modelling materials, for example using scent free kitty-litter instead of packaged rocks.

Here’s a few more pictures of my diorama.

Pilot
The view from the cockpit of an approaching bush plane.

We had fun making these together, and they all turned out pretty nice.  Below are some pictures of some of the dioramas that the others made.

 

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Lost on a Mountain in Maine

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Here are a couple reflections on the book Lost on a Mountain in Main.

Twelve year old Donn Fendler becomes lost on Maine’s highest peak, Mount Kathadin. Donn spends the next nine days trapped alone in a deadly, miserable wilderness with an abundance of cold, rain, bugs, sharp rocks, and lethal precipices.

Throughout the adventure, despite great pain, fatigue, fear, and hunger, Donn shows extraordinary courage and a will to live.

The reader joins Donn in his fight to survive the brutal wilderness as he spends more than a week alone, with no more than the clothes on his back.

Here is an excerpt from the book, which you can buy here:

“… I had come back to the same sign. For a second I was stunned. I just stood there looking at it. I knew now, for sure, that I was lost. I was running in a circle. I didn’t know what to do, so I stumbled around looking for other marks, on that same trail. I guess I went a long way over rocks and over pucker bush and sometimes under it too, searching and hunting for another trail marker. I didn’t find any, but I kept going down. I remember that. After a while, I came to a place where there was a lot of gravel, and boy, was it slippery! That place was dangerous, for a slip might mean a bad fall – maybe a hundred feet or more. I slowed down. I could imagine myself lying there, in the cold and dark, with a sprained ankle. Meanwhile the rocks were getting bigger and bigger…”

A Dream Come True

IMG_0580.JPGWhen I first started learning to unicycle (in February 2016) my only goal was to be able to ride consistently.  After visiting my Great Uncle David in Toronto – who owns a collection of unicycles of various sizes and descriptions – and trying out some of his unicycles I began to realize how many possibilities there are with unicycling. I tried his five foot tall ‘giraffe,’ and the big ‘36er’ which has a wheel diameter of 3’. You can get going really fast on the 36er, so once you get one of those you don’t ever have to ride a bike again, unless of course, you want to…

Later that summer, after I was feeling more comfortable on my 20” trainer, I decided I was ready for an upgrade of some sort. The only one I found that was relatively within my price range was a used five foot tall giraffe that was a 2 hour drive away, and not on the way to anywhere I or my family really ever goes. I was also a little hesitant to pay the price they where asking, as I didn’t know what shape the unicycle was in. I was about to buy it, but prayed first.

I decided to wait a little longer, and literally the next day I found another ad in Toronto for a giraffe that was half the price of the other one, and it came with another 20” trainer as well! The seller was just trying to get rid of them. And, since I know people who go to Toronto fairly often, this was the perfect opportunity. My very kind Uncle David generously went out of his way to pick it up for me, and my Dad later picked it up while in Toronto for another reason.

Dad got back late, and the next morning told me to go look in the back of the van. I opened the van door, and pulled out a Norco Giraffe and a 20” trainer. I found that neither of them needed a new tube despite the seller saying they did, so I was able to start riding the giraffe right away. The whole story is an example of how God loves to give us good things. We can learn to wait on the LORD for some things instead of trying to figure out everything by ourselves. As the bible says:

Delight yourself also in the LORD: and he shall give you the desires of your heart.

That summer I posted a WANTED: UNICYCLES ad online, and started buying used unicycles, and selling some of them to friends after I had taught them how to ride. I was able to find a 24” uni (unicycle), which was fun because you can go a little faster than on a 20” uni (larger diameter = larger circumference = more SPEED).

Ever since I had ridden Uncle David’s 36er in Toronto, I had dreamed of getting one of my own. 36ers just fly! A 36er’s wheel is large enough that it is almost as fast as a bike. I looked all over Canada and the US for a used or new 36er at a good price, but could hardly find any that where affordable, or located somewhere I would be able to pick it up. I looked on UDC, Creigslist, Kijiji, and even considered buying all the components and building my own (which would have been pretty cool, but was also pretty expensive). I really wanted to get one but just couldn’t seem to find one that would be the right fit, so I talked to the LORD about it.

One day in March (of 2017) I was (half jokingly) trying to convince my Mom to buy one for me. She told me to talk to Jesus about it, because he loves to give us good things.

Literally ten minutes later I got an email from a guy named ‘Mike’ who was replying to the wanted ad for unicycles I had posted months ago. I could hardly believe my eyes as I read the message. He was selling his Qu-Ax 36er with some KH accesories on it, and it was for less than any of the unicycles I had previously looked at. And, it was only a 30 minute drive from my place!

I took this as a clear sign from God that this was the unicycle for me, and in less than two hours I was back home inspecting my very own 36er! After tinkering around and changing a few things on it, the next day I was happily riding around the tennis court. It was amazing to realize that God had just provided something I had been looking for for the past year. God loves to make dreams realities for his children, and for me, He had just made a Dream Come True.

Bottles in the Atlantic

In 2013 my family drove all the way to Nova Scotia, Canada, to visit extended family. We stayed at a cottage on a small lake called Lake Deception, near Shelburne, NS.

After launching canoes on the lake, we found that although the surface appears quite flat, there are many hidden rocks barely beneath the surface. We figured this could have been the reason behind the name Deception.

I found an empty glass bottle (the kind used for rootbeer, soda, or beer) that one of the previous renters chucked from the deck behind the cottage. It instantly gave me the idea to write a message, roll it up inside, and toss it into the lake, in the hopes that someone from one of the 10 or so other cottages along the lake would find it.

When my Uncle Ed heard of my plans, he took the idea to a whole new level, by suggesting I throw it in the ocean instead. He also gave me the idea of doing more than one bottle, so as to increase the chances of someone finding it, and even went out of his way to help me photocopy the note (which included my name and address and a request for the finder to write). I left all the ten notes with Ed. He told me that he had a friend at a liquor store, where he might be able to get some bottles.

Later that day while I was at a beach with my family, Ed pulled up in his mini-van and called me over to it.

He gave me a box of ten shinny, brand new, freshly sealed beer bottles. Inside each bottle was one of the notes, tightly rolled up and fastened with an elastic band. On each bottle was a crisp white cap with a red octopus that had a bottle instead of a head.

I put the bottles in our van, and later we drove as far towards the open sea as roads would allow, than walked for a bit on a path, ‘till we got to some rocks where you could see the frothing Atlantic Ocean right below.

My cousins, siblings, and I took turns lobbing the bottles off the cliff like hand-grenades, and watched as they bobbed gently up and down, moving slowly out to sea.

Uncle Ed had told me that it would take several months before the bottle caps would rust through, so if they had not been beached before then, they where goners.

After arriving home from NS (Nova Scotia), I wondered, is someone actually going to find one of these on a beach somewhere?  If so, how far away might they be?

A couple weeks later I got a letter in the mail from NS. Since it wasn’t from Uncle Ed or his family, I wondered who it was. I opened it up, and inside found a letter from someone who had found one of the bottles while walking on a beach on Cape Sable Island, NS. This is not very far from Shelburne, but it was still exciting news.

Two or three days later I received another letter, from another island nearby called the Cape. The two people found their respective bottles two days apart from each other!

I replied to both letters, and wrote to Ed to tell him the good news. I even continued to correspond with one of the people for some time, although the other person never replied a second time.

Sometimes I wonder what happened during the journey of those bottles, and what befell the other eight bottles which I never heard from again. Still, I deem it quite a success, and am very grateful to Ed, without whom I would not have been able to carry out such a great experiment.

Gulf Shores, Alabama

This year for the holidays in December, our family decided to go on a road-trip adventure. We decided to go to Alabama, USA. While our backyard was covered in snow, we thought it would be great to head somewhere a little warmer for the holidays.

We rented a place in Gulf Shores, which is south of Mobile, AL, and is on the Gulf of Mexico. The cottage we rented was only a five minute walk from the beach. I was interested to note that all the structures in the area were on stilts (beams). This is to preserve the building an case of a flood.

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We had a great time at the beach nearby. The sand was a different texture than that of freshwater lake sands. I’m guessing this is because of the salt in the seawater.

I had fun on a skim-board, which is a thin wooden board that you throw down into very shallow water and jump onto. It’s fun because you just glide barely above the sand on a thin layer of water. Beach stores sell them.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR7860.Two of my brothers also made this mosaic out of seashells.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR7858.We noticed a bunch of little holes in the sand all over the beach, and when I dug one of them up, I found a tiny land crab!

DCIM100GOPROGOPR7859.The waves were very high and powerful and we had to be careful of the undertow, which is a current that pulls against incoming waves underneath the surface, and can pull you right under.

One day we met up with some friends at the Explorium in Mobile. The Explorium is a big science centre with lots of neat stuff to look at and do. Another day we went on a boat tour of Mobile Harbor where we saw navy ships, a container ship getting unloaded, and a WWII ship which is now a museum.  Our friend Dan – who inspects ships – explained all about each of the ships we saw.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR7862.We stayed in Alabama just less than a week. We had a great time, and because we went on the off-season, there was hardly anyone else on the beach. Next time you’re looking for your next travel destination, I recommend looking into Gulf Shores, Alabama. It’s a great place to visit.DCIM100GOPROGOPR7809.

Trip to Toronto

img_4804This summer my older brother Duke and I went for a neat little traveling adventure.  My Great Uncle and Aunt – David (who got me started on uni-cycling) and Joan – live in Toronto, Canada’s largest city in population, and we went to visit them.

Dad dropped us off at the bus station where we got on the bus for Toronto.  When we arrived in Toronto David and Joan picked us up.

First, they took us to the Kensington Market, a market where you can shop for all sorts of interesting things.  img_1101After touring around and looking at lots of food, clothing, and other stuff, my Aunt Joan dropped us off at the Billy Bishop airport which is right beside the sailboat club where Uncle David owns a boat.

We went for a sail with some of Uncle David’s friends.  We sailed way out on Lake Ontario, then back in and around Toronto Island, where we saw a bunch of wind surfers and encountered a sailboat race.  On the way back to the boat club I got a chance to steer which was pretty cool.  We had dinner at the boat club and then headed back to David and Joan’s house where we talked about the plan for the next day.

Next morning the four of us woke up at around 5:30 a.m. and drove to the park where David and I began unicycling and Duke and Joan went for a walk around the park.  image1We unicycled 10 km (6.2 miles); David on his 29” unicycle and I was borrowing his 24” unicycle.  We drove home, then walked to a nearby diner for breakfast.  After breakfast we walked to the nearest subway station and rode around on subways, streetcars and buses for the rest of the morning which was cool for me because I had never been on a subway before.  At around noon we took a bus back to David and Joan’s home and had a snack and some quiet time, during which David let me try out his 5’ tall ‘giraffe’ unicycleimg_1128and 36” unicycle.750_8663I took them down to a nearby park to practice.750_8680An hour or so later we drove to the Beach where we walked around and enjoyed some fresh air.  It would have been a great day for swimming but we just dipped our feet in.

That evening we walked to a restaurant nearby the Beach for dinner.  We had a nice quiet dinner and then walked around watching different bands set up for a jazz festival.

Next morning around 5:30 a.m. Uncle David woke me up and this time just the two of us went to the park to do some early morning unicycling.  This time I was using his 36” unicycle which can go much faster with less peddling.

When we got back from unicycling in the park I packed up my stuff and then we had homemade porridge for breakfast.  After breakfast I practiced a bit more on David’s giraffe unicycle.  Later that morning David and Joan drove us back to our home, and on the way back we stopped at a bakery for a snack.

What a great weekend of fun and excitement!